Monday, January 23, 2006

Who is watching who and why?

You see the debate all over the news. Did the Bush administration overstep its legal authority to monitor telephone calls involving Americans without court oversight in the name of combating terrorism?

Then there is the story that the government has been asking Google for information on what all of us Internet users are using their search engine to look for on the Web. Ostensibly, the subpoena is an attempt to see if efforts to protect children from accessing porn sites are working. But the request isn't about porn, it asks for everything everyone searched for in a certain span of time.

Given those two news stories, I got to thinking about a string of commercials I have been seeing a lot on television lately for a company offering Internet phone service. Just how might the government tap internet phone calls? And if the government taps the Internet to monitor voice, what else might it monitor? And how?

Those who say the Patriot Act and all of its provisions are necessary to fight the war on terror are missing the point about why some Americans are worried about what the government might snoop into if given too much power.

Our system of government and society works precisely because we have a balance of power in the branches of government, preventing a system where the president becomes too powerful. It is more important than ever to maintain that balance of power in an era where citizens are giving up their role in our society in droves by not exercising their right to vote. As the citizenry becomes disengaged from the process and media consolidation means fewer people are monitoring government, the ability for government to abuse its power is great. And I'm sorry fellow blogger, but the proliferation of blogs doesn not qualify as providing in-depth coverage of the inner workings of government. Yea, a lot of that stuff can be pretty boring to people who would much rather watch the latest hot reality TV series, but it's an important part of making sure government does the people's business, not the business of protecting those in power, from whatever party.


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